An affecting story of a girl's deepening sense of self-respect in an environment of abuse. Dawn, 12, and her older sister Opal have become resigned to fear whenever their father--an alcoholic shielded by his ineffectual wife--is around. Small things like misplacing his keys send him into rages that result in spankings for the two girls and their small twin sisters. Dawn finds refuge from home's turbulence in a nearby pasture where she observes a horse, which an elderly farmer, Eleroy Everley, teachers her to care for while its owners are away. For the fast time in her life, Dawn can feel useful and able, while Eleroy's kindness teachers her that not all adults are to be feared. Dawn is a resolute character who, despite her timidity, takes her beatings without uttering a cry. But though sophisticated readers will comprehend the hope she unearths by book's end, other unresolved circumstances in this quiet novel are frighteningly bleak--what, for example, will happen to Opal and the twins? Absorbing, strong stuff.